After Credit and Debit Cards now it is the turn of SIM Card Swapping

After robbing money from your credit cards now cyber thieves will rob it from your mobile phone, how? take a look at the following article. Technology has its own shortcomings, money is not safe anymore even if its locked in your banks as robbers are learning new ways of stealing your hard earned money from you by making use of the same technology that you feel is safe and convenient.

Wait!! we have not created this article to scare you or something but to only show you how you can safeguard your money from the cybercriminals. Let us start from the beginning on how this fraud takes place and how you can save your money from getting vanished from the bank.

Earlier the cybercriminals used to swap your credit cards or make use of your credentials to rob money from your credit and debit cards but with the improvement in technology, it started becoming more difficult. Your bank started sending pin or passcode on your mobile number that way keeping you safe from cyber theft.

The development in technology also came with more vulnerabilities, for example, the credit and debit card payments turned into the mobile payments and all the transaction started taking place from mobile phones, and that became a new region for the cyber thief and they started learning the SIM card Swapping.


What is SIM Card Swapping?

Sim swapping is a new sophisticated form of cyber fraud that allows hackers to gain access to your phone and then hack your bank account, credit card number and other personal information.

As India goes digital, most of the banking activities take place via your smartphones. The One Time Password (OTP) which is received by the customer to authorize any transaction is the key for the fraudster to sweep your bank account clean. The SIM Swap cases were reported in the US and Europe as early as 2013 and now it is happening in India where people have lost more than 200 crores in these SIM swap scams.

SIM swapping cases in India

As reported by NDTV, a city-based textile merchant lost at least Rs. 1.86 crore, which was allegedly transferred from his account by unidentified persons to various bank accounts across the country, police said Wednesday. The incident came to light when the victim, who hails from Mahim in Central Mumbai, approached the BKC Cyber Police Station with a complaint Friday, an official said.

According to the complaint, on the intervening night of Thursday-Friday, the textile merchant’s cell phone had stopped functioning after some missed calls, he said. The next morning, he found that his bank account, which was with a co-operative bank and whose details were linked to his mobile phone, had been almost emptied during the night, the official said. At least Rs. 1.86 crore was fraudulently transferred from his account through RTGS/NEFT (electronic fund transfer systems) by unidentified persons to 24 accounts of various banks in Delhi, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and some northern states.

What exactly must have happened in the above case?

In the above case the victim might have given access to his personal information by either opening or responding to certain emails with the malicious links which when clicked, the virus is embedded on the system which gives the hacker liberty to monitor the victim’s activity plus gaining his personal information.

The email can vary from winning loads of cash to playing any online games once clicked on the said email. We should ensure the safety of our personal information while going online. One way to do this is to install a proper antivirus on your personal system or your smartphones. This will allow you to monitor the emails or any other website links you tend to open. The antivirus will warn you of the malware if there are any suspicious activities detected. This can give you control of your personal information not get leaked. By obtaining your SIM card number the fraudster can use it to receive OTP which are required to complete any transactions. If you receive any such OTP without your knowledge then you should immediately contact the Cyber Cell Division and your service provider.

Muktesh Chander, DGP with the Goa Police explains that here the fraudster/ hacker will approach your service provider by fake documents claiming to be “you” and request to block the current SIM card and issue “the fraudster” with a new one. In the meantime, you have no idea that your SIM is getting swapped nor does your service provider ensures that this is indeed “you”. Once the current SIM card which you are using is blocked, a new one is directly provided at hand to the fraudster. Instead, if the service provider decides to post the SIM card to the registered postal address, then this whole scam won’t unfold. Once the fraudster gets the new SIM card, it gives easy access to OTP, banking details, personal information which is already linked to the SIM Card.

Another incident reported by the Hindustan Times, Dinesh Kukreja, a resident of Pune’s Katraj area got a call from a man posing to be an Airtel staffer. The man asked Kukreja to share his information else his SIM card would get deactivated. Kukreja shared the details of the SIM card that was linked with his bank account. Furthermore, the man asked Kukreja to send the SMS that he had received to his mobile number. This enabled the fraudster to render Kukreja’s SIM card. The trickster then got a new SIM card with the same phone number issued from the mobile service provider which effectively gave him access to Kukreja’s linked bank account.

Soon after Kukreja got to know that a sum of Rs 93.5 lakh had been transferred from his bank account. Following the incident, Kukreja lodged a complaint with the Bharti Vidyapeeth police station. The police have registered a case under sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 419 (punishment for cheating by personation) of Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Information Technology Act against unidentified people.

How to protect yourself from such frauds?

  • Never switch off your mobile for long periods to avoid unwanted calls. Instead, try not to pick them. Otherwise, activate DND (Do Not Disturb) facility for your SIM.

  • Regularly check your bank account statement.

  • Register for both email as well as SMS alerts.

  • Do not share your 20 digits SIM number mentioned on the back of your SIM with anyone

  • Do not display your mobile number on social media websites.

  • Do not share your mobile number unnecessarily during shopping.

  • If any suspicious activities are sensed then directly contact your service provider or the Cyber Cell Division.

  • Service providers should ensure the request for blocking the SIM card and requesting a new one is coming from the original user itself.

  • Install proper antivirus on your personal systems and smartphones.

  • Do not open any suspicious emails which may contain malware and steal your personal data.

On an endnote, be careful of what you deal with. It may steal your peace of mind. Technology is reaching new heights every single day so does giving ample options to hackers and fraudsters to come up with new scams to loot you. Being alert and smart is the only way to ensure that these scams do not get you duped.

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